Heatwave kills 15; more than 8,000 hospitalised


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Let me say something... Some of the days are are extremely hot in Tokyo and I see people jogging at noon. If you feel you must go running, do it in the morning. Sunrise is at about 4:30am and between then and 10am there is plenty of time to run or wait until the evening.

A few weeks back there was a marathon held along the Tama River. Hot as frack and the participants that I saw looked miserable. I kept thinking to myself, are these people really enjoying themselves?

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Perhaps the problem would be helped (albeit to a minor degree) by city governments not having workers go out and hack every single limb off of every single tree in the city right as the summer heat is about to hit. At least that is what they do in my city, leaving it a completely shadeless heat island throughout July and August, which is frustrating since there is no obvious reason why it has to be.

21 ( +23 / -2 )

@ senseiman - Could not agree more-saw them setting up the cones in the parking lane near the office on July 9 and thought, "Uh-oh!" Trees are completely bare! Seems bizarre to me!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Agree with both of you, and a good number of those who suffer heat stroke and are sent to hospital are people working on their hobby gardens mid-day, kids practicing clubs on white-hot dirt sports fields, and people who swaddle themselves in heaps of clothes to avoid the sunlight but not in a way that allows their body to let off heat or keep in water. And yeah, hacking off all the tree limbs at the end of June is another thing as well. I can understand the bi-annual grass cutting, but still.

Take care, people, and be smart. You don't need to do outdoor sports when the sun is at its peak, and schools should not allow kids to be playing outdoors, save swimming maybe, in this heat and then wonder why so many are sent to hospitals.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Heat wave? It's Summer it gets hot. Has not been over 40 yet a heat wave?

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

8,000 hospitalised - and therein lies the problem with the medical system. I wonder how many called for an ambulance, too?!

No wonder it's so outrageously expensive...

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Tokyo 2020 will be from July 24th till August 9th and the Paralympic Games from August 25th. And they all just keep talking about the terrible heat at the Qatar Fifa Worldcup. At least Qatar is not humid. If you add this to the 32-36 C in Japan during this time it's more hot here. People have no idea what Tokyo Summer means.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

@sighclops I saw a lady faint in the park at high noon. Breath shallow, was able to mumble with great difficulty, before falling unconscious. What else could the passers do? Leave her there on the ground? Pour pond water on her to cool her down? What if it's not heatstroke? Best thing to do without proper training is not to move the victim and call the emergency number. Someone called, described her state, the ambulance came, staff was not in high emergency mode, but they carried her away.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@missingcylonmodel; Ambulance staff is never in high emergency mode-they get her in the back, put a blanket on her and then get on the phone/radio to try to find a hospital that will take her.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The best defense against any heat-related illness is simply prevention. You have to be extra careful when the heat index is 32 degrees C or above because the heat index tells you how hot it feels in the shade when relative humidity combines with air temperatures. You have to always always drink plenty of water when the heat index is high and avoid caffeine and alcohol. If you are outdoors then take frequent breaks inside or in the shade. So if you take precautions and know the warning signs, you generally can prevent heats stroke. However the elderly are more prone because their bodies do not adjust well to sudden changes in temperature or are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that upsets normal body responses to heat and sometimes if they are on prescription medication it can impair their body's ability to regulate its temperature and inhibits perspiration.

2 ( +3 / -1 )


Yes, it is absolutely bizarre. I commute by bicycle about 40 minutes each way so I am very attuned to the availability of shade on my route. About 90% of it is on tree-lined streets, but these have almost no shade whatsoever thanks to the overzealous trimming. I understand some trimming is useful to keep branches out of traffic, to encourage the tree to grow in certain way, etc but the way they do it is just mindless overkill.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Some good posts here but I have a few comments:

Shade doesn't always help. If the ambient temperature and relative humitity are high you can still suffer heat stroke.

As the story states, many of these people are elderly. Unfortunately the meager income for pentioneers in Japan discourages the use of AC. Some people just can't afford the electric bills.

Heat stroke has precursor symptoms. If you feel dizzy or ill, get someplace air conditioned, if you can't find a hotel lobby or other "public" indoor area that has AC, get into a coffee shop and drop a couple hunderd yen for an iced coffee. Or, just ask if you can sit there for a few minutes until you feel better, maybe with some water. I doubt if they are going to throw you out.

Good-Samaritanism (It's a real word), if you see someone in distress, ask if they need some sort of assistance. Help them get inside wait until they feel better or need EMS.
4 ( +7 / -3 )

This should be getting more coverage. How many people in Honshu died from the recent typhoon or were hospitalized from it? Now compare that to around 15 dead (will be more in the coming weeks)/ 8000 hospitalized (will also be more in the coming weeks).

1 ( +1 / -0 )


I saw a lady faint in the park at high noon. Breath shallow, was able to mumble with great difficulty, before falling unconscious. What else could the passers do?

An isolated number of cases, sure. But eight thousand is a tad ridiculous, wouldn't you say? These aren't exactly life-threatening, non-avoidable instances and a waste of taxpayer money, quite frankly.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I did a full days work, and then went on a 50km bike ride and full speed. I suffered no ill effects from the heat, and I actually only drank a single water bottle full of water.

How did I manage this incredible feat, considering the heat, I hear you ask?

Well, I had my aircon on all day at about 22 degrees, working at my desk, then at 4.35pm as the heat started to slide, I went out on my bike. Rode for an hour and a half, rolling back up to my apartment door at about 6pm, just as dusk setting, and a soft breeze was blowing the heat away from the day.

I literally can not see how anybody gets heatstroke in a country like this, where there is aircon everywhere, and most people work in offices.

As for the elderly getting taken in to hospital; give me a break. Half of them will be doing that attention seeking / not actually sick but just want something to do / socialise thing they all do at the hospital every day, but instead of claiming to have sore knees, they are all quacking, 'Atsui' at eachother at the moment, in standard pre-programmed style, so the general invented malais de jour is heat stroke. The other half are plain stupid and putting themselves in unnecessary contact with direct sun light; they are elderly and don't work, so why are they purposefully going out in the sun and getting sick? Yep, because they are ridiculous.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Heatwave kills 15; more than 8,000 hospitalised

Heat wave? What bloody heat wave? It was in the mid 30's for two or three days and people start dying? They should be trying to hide these facts, not publicise them! Admittedly, the majority of victims were the elderly, but they are the ones that should know better cos they have been dealing with a Japanese summer for over half a century. I only have one real comment for these statistics, "bwahahahahahahahah!"

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

TheInterstat--someday you will get old as well. Have a little sympathy

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Well bully for you smart Alec TheInterstat. Aren't you the clever one (not)? I agree with MapleG. People suffer at much lower temperatures in cities and to think that old people would make it up just to socialise is ridiculous. Just because you might not suffer yourself does not mean people make it up. We all have different tolerances and our tolerance decreases with old age. I spent 3 months in Thailand in the summer and it was extremely hot then. I could cope but I was young. I couldn't cope now that I am in my 50's. If 8,000 people are hospitalised I can't see how anyone can say it is a sympathy call. My mother is in her 70's and she can't cope in the UK with 25 degrees! She is not a liar!!!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Admittedly, the majority of victims were the elderly, but they are the ones that should know better cos they have been dealing with a Japanese summer for over half a century.

Japanese summers are getting hotter. The figures are here -

Just looking at rows of figures doesn't tell you very much, but copy-paste the figures for July and August into a spreadsheet, use them to make a graph from say 1980 to the present day, add a trend line for each month and you see quite clearly that summer is hotter than it used to be.

When I first came to Japan people would ooh and aah if the temperature hit 30 degrees. Nowadays 30 degrees feels relatively cool.

2 ( +4 / -2 )


" in a country like this, where there is aircon everywhere, and most people work in offices."

In your dreams maybe. I work at a national university and a private university and neither has air conditioning or fans in the classrooms. At this time of year it can be very scary. I do know a lot of people that work in offices, but I know just as many that are farming or fishing, building and painting houses, paving roads, climbing utility poles, making things in small factories, etc. And a lot of them go home to un-air conditioned homes.

"Half of them will be doing that attention seeking"

Are you being serious?

"The other half are plain stupid and putting themselves in unnecessary contact with direct sun light;"

Guess you were too busy in your air conditioned office and on your bike and therefore missed the news that many of the heat-related deaths of (mostly but not always) elderly folks are happening indoors.

6 ( +8 / -2 )


Some good posts here but I have a few comments: Shade doesn't always help. If the ambient temperature and relative humitity are high you can still suffer heat stroke.

Perhaps if those branches are high up, but I can tell you that when I was out on Sunday at 1pm it was definitely several degrees cooler under decent shade. Low hanging branches are excellent respite in high summer, even with this humidity :) Of course that doesn't help if you don't have extensive shade to walk under, hence other readers discussing the tree-trimming issue. ...which is crazy to do in summer too, in my opinion.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm sure thousands end up in the hospital every year because of the heat. Japan is always blistering hot in the Summer. They could post this same story every year - it's always the same.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Come on, this happens every year. I know Japan doesn't like aircon and the elderly tends to be one ones against it most. As the city grew there were less and less green areas, more and more concrete which traps heat. They paved over rivers, and reduced parks. So of course it is hotter than the old folks remember. Wonder how many people still go to Karuizawa? It might be interesting if the city sets up an old folks camp in the mountains for the summer but I doubt the old folks shut ins will come out of their homes.

1 ( +2 / -1 )


-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Japanese cities need to take a few lessons from Singapore, the tropical "garden city," a pleasant and comfortable place even in the heat.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@sighclops: I agree that prevention is top priority to avoid becoming an emergency patient and a cost for the society.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


You are correct. There used to be only 4 or 5 days that hit 30C or higher in the summer. Now there is the potential for 50 days in a row at 30 C or more.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I am still not having it.

Japan has been extremely, dangerously hot in summer every year since forever. And definitely every single summer that all of these old people have lived through.

You get heat stroke by getting too hot. Simple. So don't do anything that is going to get you too hot. If it is too hot inside your house, put the aircon on. If you can't afford it, or you don't have an aircon, in Japan, then that is ridiculous. Criticse and downvote all you like, the simple fact is, that dangerous heat is a feature of life every year for everyone in Japan. With modern technology and the utter predictability of the yearly heatwave there should be not a single heatstroke case. This is just the result of stupidity over common sense.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Heatwave my foot! Is it hot? Yes, it's summer. Is it unusually hot? No. I've noted that so far this summer the evenings and early mornings have been so mild(in Kanagawa) that I've been able to comfortably do without AC at night. At the moment it's 25C and 70% humidity with no AC and just a floor fan ososcillating. Quite unlike last summer. Out on the balcony it's quite comfy watching for Perseids.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"It's getting hot in here, so hot, so take off all your clothes"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You get the idea. Tokyo is hot in summer, and always was. "Just a few days over 30 degrees" is a myth.

I don't think you are allowed to use scientific and historic facts to prove the point that Japan has always been crushingly hot in the Summer. Someone is bound to accuse you of being a Denier.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"But not everyone has your health, your habits, your living conditions, your age, or your good luck."

We all share the same physiology. Staying hydrated amid high heat is usually a result of conscious efforts made by the individual, and a bit of education doesn't hurt.

"....and the mean maximum temperature for the month was 31.8 degrees."

It's not so much about the "maximum temperatures," but the low and off-peak temperatures as well. Long periods of lows above 25 degrees was indeed rare in the past.

I've been to other countries with highs of 36 in the afternoon, but 22 or 23 in the evenings and mornings, and they're a lot more comfortable than Tokyo right now. A lot of those places also have siesta-based lifestyles, which help avoid the stress and misery suffered in workaholic Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

OK, perhaps my source was off on past years (I'll admit), but these recent years, you get 50-70 days/ year over 30C.!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah, and it is doubly stupid if a Japanese person who has lived here their whole life gets sick from the heat; I am from England, and coming to Japan, I have never imagined in my wildest dreams how hot it could get in summer. Surely if it was a case of certain physical make-ups being more suited to the heat than others, it would be me, the pasty white guy, who had never felt temperatures above 30 in his life, who would be getting sick.

But it isn't. It is the people who simply put themselves at risk through a combination of no common sense, despite a lifetime of experiencing the same thing year in year out, and poor lifestyle choices.

Downvote away, you know I am right.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"....which matches my own experience of Japanese summers more than 20 years ago".

Doesn't match my experiences ....I don't recall "low temperatures" of 28 as routine, as they are now. 25 or higher was "nettaiya," and was always a topic of neighborhood conversation. Below are the "low" temps in the current forecast, which isn't ever considered a "heat wave" any more.

Sat 27 Sun 27 Mon 28 Tues 27 Wed 28 Thurs 28 Fri 27 Sat 26

This is the new normal. It was never before.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I can pick a year at random (1962), pick a month in summer (July), and look up the temperature record for Tokyo.

There were 14 days when the temperature was 30 degrees or higher.

Of those the highest was 33.9. Only three days in that month had temperatures over 33 degrees, two of those days being consecutive. The mean average low was 21.7.

Randomly picking a different year and a different month: 1967 August: the first 19 days in a row were 30 degrees or over; in the whole month, 26 days were 30 or over, and the mean maximum temperature for the month was 31.8 degrees.

The highest was a sweltering 37.4; five days over 33 degrees, with four consecutive scorching days if we count 32.9 as close enough to 33 degrees to make no difference. Mean average low, 25.7 (marked in red on the chart to indicate something unusual?)

12 days over 30 in July 1972

Not a single day over 33 degrees; the highest is 32.4. Mean average low, 23.2.

20 in August 1972

2 days over 33 degrees, non-consecutive. Mean average low, 24.

Compare that with the latest year for which that site gives July figures, 2013: 12 days over 33 degrees, 10 of them consecutive and including 4 consecutive days with temperatures in excess of 35 degrees. Mean average low, 24.1.

Or July in the year before that: 11 days with temperatures over 33 degrees, 7 (10 if you go into August) of them consecutive. Between the 19th and the 20th of that month there was a drop in maximum temperature of nearly 13 degrees (from 35.1 to 22.2). Mean average low, 23.2.

How anyone can look at these figures and say the summers are no hotter than they always were, beats me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

wipeout, I didn't misunderstand what you said, you are right when you say that Tokyo has always had days that were hotter than 30 degrees: but summer has not always had umpteen days in a row of temperatures in the mid-thirties or higher. When I first came to Japan, 30 degrees was seen as a hot summer's day; nowadays a temperature of 'only' thirty degrees feels like a relief, especially after several days of much higher temperatures.

It is unreasonable for people to say that the elderly should know better cos they have been dealing with a Japanese summer for over half a century, or that it is doubly stupid if a Japanese person who has lived here their whole life gets sick from the heat or that definitely every single summer that all of these old people have lived through has been extremely, dangerously hot -these claims are simply not true. Japanese summers, while they have always been hot, have not always featured the kind of prolonged periods of very high temperatures we are seeing regularly now. There is very hot, and there is very hot. The oldies who are succumbing to the heat have not spent the past half a century living through the kind of summers we have been having the past few years.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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